Sunday 25 August 2019

'I'd say we could nearly put a statue of him up' - proud Clara locals hail Shane Lowry's British Open win as 'unbelievable'

Thomas Newman from Clara and cousins Pat and Billy Clavin from Rahan cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly.
Pic Steve Humphreys
Thomas Newman from Clara and cousins Pat and Billy Clavin from Rahan cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly. Pic Steve Humphreys
Republic Of Ireland's Shane Lowry celebrates his birdie on the 15th during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. David Davies/PA Wire

Aoife Walsh, in Co Offaly

Proud Clara locals have hailed Shane Lowry’s performance at the British Open as "unbelievable" as they gear up for a hectic homecoming which they expect to be "seven days long."

While Lowry battled his way to victory through unfavorable conditions in Portrush, floods of locals flocked to Esker Hills golf club in Tullamore, Offaly.

Sisters Michelle Molloy and Bridget Farrell along with Bridgets’s children Isabel Farrell (7) and Jane Farrell (4) all from Tullamore Offaly cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly.
Pic Steve Humphreys
21st July 2019
Sisters Michelle Molloy and Bridget Farrell along with Bridgets’s children Isabel Farrell (7) and Jane Farrell (4) all from Tullamore Offaly cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly. Pic Steve Humphreys 21st July 2019

Esker Hill, a club hailed for giving Lowry’s his start in golf, was packed with locals all fighting to get a closer glimpse of the TV screen in the bar. Staff were run off their feet as they try to keep the eager fans fed and their thirst quenched.

Right in the nub of the rowdy crowd, Lowry’s granduncle and vice-captain, Thomas Newman with former vice, Pat Clavin are sat in a prime spot in front of the TV screen.

"He’s done great things here for the young lads, he’s unbelievable. He supports everything. You just have to say it to him that there’s something on this week or next week, there’s no problem - he’ll sponsor it," Newman said.

"He’s done us so proud. We’re over the moon. We’ll certainly have a homecoming for him if it suits his schedule, we’ll welcome him big time," he added.

Clavin added: "His father Brendan Lowry, Dominic Flemming, Austin Hanley, and Ger Egan, they are the backbone of the junior set up here. There is a very healthy junior set up here.

"Shane basically bankrolls it, he looks after them, he’s very good that way. His influence here is strong."

Ray Molloy cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly.
Pic Steve Humphreys
21st July 2019
Ray Molloy cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly. Pic Steve Humphreys 21st July 2019

Ray Molloy, a director of Esker Hills said he "can't believe" Lowry's success.

"I can't believe it's happening to us. A small little club, 200 members. A young fella that came here, a 12-year-old, hopping around playing golf with his father, after a year or two he showed promise and since he's gone from strength to strength.

Sisters Isabel Farrell (7) and Jane Farrell (4) from Tullamore Offaly cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly.
Pic Steve Humphreys
21st July 2019
Sisters Isabel Farrell (7) and Jane Farrell (4) from Tullamore Offaly cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly. Pic Steve Humphreys 21st July 2019

"We thought when he won the Irish Open that it couldn't get better for us. Then he went to America and played a few games and we thought it couldn't get better than that. We thought he might win a major one day.

"This will make such a difference to Esker Hills, it will put us on the map. We just cannot believe it.

Joe Duffy from Tullamore and Adrian O’Reilly from Clara Offaly cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly.
Pic Steve Humphreys
21st July 2019
Joe Duffy from Tullamore and Adrian O’Reilly from Clara Offaly cheering on Shane Lowry during the final day of the British Open at Esker Hills Golf Club in Offaly. Pic Steve Humphreys 21st July 2019

"The homecoming will be seven days long," he added.

Joe Duffy, a member of Esker Hills, said Lowry’s performance was "unbelievable", and that the professional golfer has made the club "proud".

Golf - The 148th Open Championship - Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland - July 21, 2019 Republic of Ireland's Shane Lowry plays out of a bunker on the 13th hole during the final round REUTERS/Paul Childs
Golf - The 148th Open Championship - Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland - July 21, 2019 Republic of Ireland's Shane Lowry plays out of a bunker on the 13th hole during the final round REUTERS/Paul Childs

"We've been following him Thursday, Friday, and after yesterday we said we’d drop everything - we have to be out here.

"This place will be unbelievable when he comes back. I was here when he won the Irish Open. This is another step. I’d say they could nearly put a statue of him out there.

Republic Of Ireland's Shane Lowry hits from the bunker on the 13th during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.David Davies/PA Wire
Republic Of Ireland's Shane Lowry hits from the bunker on the 13th during day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.David Davies/PA Wire

"The course here is so unique. It’s set up like a links course. From a young lad, he’s put in hours of practice here and it’s paid off.  It’s hard - a lot of people don’t like it and a lot of people do, it’s like Marmite here. It’s tough, but that’s why he has all the shots.

"This is a local club here. From where he’s come from and where he is now, he’s made us proud."

Next to Duffy, club member Adrian O’Reilly recalls playing alongside Lowry in his younger days.

Golf - The 148th Open Championship - Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland - July 21, 2019 Republic of Ireland's Shane Lowry on the 14th hole during the final round REUTERS/Paul Childs
Golf - The 148th Open Championship - Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland - July 21, 2019 Republic of Ireland's Shane Lowry on the 14th hole during the final round REUTERS/Paul Childs

"His performance has been amazing. I played with him when he was a young lad. He’s still the same chap. He’s so humble.

"He’s always made us proud, even before this week. His reception will be huge. There are a thousand kids and young men in their 20s playing golf now in Clara that would never have even picked up a club if it wasn’t for Shane. Guys that would never have even considered golf until Shane. He’s huge," he added.

Carmel McEvoy, joined by her daughter Michelle, plans on staying in the club all evening to celebrate Lowry’s success: "I got up this morning and started watching it. I thought we wouldn’t get in when we came. I wouldn't usually follow golf but I’d watch him any time he’s playing."

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